If I were to sum up the current state of the front garden in 2 words, they would be: Bee Balm. Bee Balm, Bee Balm, Bee Balm. Specifically, Monarda didyma ‘Raspberry Wine’.


The Bee Balm is so visually dominant in part because so many other attention-grabbing plants are blooming late.


The Bee Balm is concentrated in the Sidewalk Border. There are other summer blooms here – Wild Bergamot (M. fistulosa), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Prairie Milkweed (A. sullivantii), plus various Lilies. But they are not yet ready to show themselves.


I wanted to contrast the Bee Balm with the ‘Betty Corning’ Clematis. Unfortunately, the ‘Betty’ in the Sidewalk Border isn’t yet very vigorous. However, you can get some contrast with the ‘Betty’ in the nearby Driveway Border. The green sparklers are the early seedheads on Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).


Here’s an experiment that did not turn out so well: Drumstick Allium (Allium sphaerocephalon) at the front of the Sidewalk Border. Just doesn’t look right. I think the problem is that the Monarda and other tall plants are blocking too much sun. Might work better if I pushed the Monarda away from the sidewalk. Judy seems to feel we could get by with less Bee Balm.


Here’s one of my favorite summer views from the garden: our front door from the sidewalk. That’s the Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ on the trellis, in case you’re wondering.


This picture is overexposed, but I’m using it anyway because 1) I didn’t take another overview shot of the Driveway Border; 2) I accidentally caught a Monarch Butterfly. See it?

The MIA perennial blooms in this border include Daylilies (Hemerocallis), Wild Bergamot (M. fistulosa) and Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata).

Sunflower with ‘Fascination’ Culver’s Root

The ‘Italian White’ Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are starting to bloom but they are mostly hidden behind a big clump of Wild Bergamot that established itself while I wasn’t looking. Sneaky buggers.

The Mexican Sunflowers (Tithonia grandiflora) are about half their normal height for this time of year. For a while I removed their flower buds to promote faster growth, but now that they are thigh-high we should have those orange blooms in a few days.


Here’s a closer look at ‘Betty Corning’.


The Hoary Vervain (Verbena hastata) is also starting to bloom. There’s a lot more of it this year than last. (Though can I just say that Hoary Vervain will never catch on until they come up with a better name for it. Sounds like a wraith from the Spirit World).

Hoary Vervain, ‘Betty Corning’, and ‘Fascination’ Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum) all have similar shades of lavender blue.


What with the other yellow and orange flowers still on their way, it’s up to Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) to provide contrast to all that lavender blue in the Driveway Border. As readers of this blog know, one of my favorite perennials.


We’ve seen lots of evidence of Monarch cats on the Milkweed, but not a lot of actual caterpillars. Here’s one, though.  Doesn’t he look like he is wearing cool sunglasses?

That’s it for the front garden. I’ll try to get to the other parts of the garden soon. Can’t believe I’m saying this, but we could really use some rain. Some of the plants are definitely looking droopy and I’ve been watering newbies by hand.

What’s looking good in your front garden these days?

37 Comments on “The Front Garden in Mid-July”

  1. My front is the pits. I know, I know, my fault. I just can’t get enthused to do anything about it. The Russian Sage in my front garden is the best bloomer right now. I guess I am good with that. When I look at how pretty your blanket of bee balm is it makes me want to plant some out front. Maybe I will.

  2. WOW WOW WOW ! … I love all that bee Balm Jason ! it is one very impacting mass planting .. The scent must be absolute heaven too ? It always reminds me of Earl Gray tea .. I only have a few little ones in my garden but when dead heading I have to crush the heads and breath that scent in .. I love it !
    I originally mistook my Mrs. Harvey for Betty Corning .. then realized my oops a few years ago.
    So pretty .. and that Jackmanii is gorgeous .. I have Fascination culvars root too !
    I hear you about the need for rain .. we are lucky to have sprinklers but we are dry as well .. it is just the new norm for our seasons now .. unpredictability.
    It all looks beautiful !

  3. Your bee balm is the bomb! My raspberry wine is having a great year, too, topping out at almost 6′. It has run rampant and I’m pulling a lot out. It’s become a thug! In my front beds I’ve got orange tiger lilies (25 or so stems – best year ever), cone flowers, oodles of self-sown 4 o’clocks, various daylilies, and a bunch of coleus from last year that I took cuttings and rooted in water. It’s a delicious riot, for sure. Your clematis sure puts on a splendid show. I just love the seemingly unplanned aspect of your front gardens! They’re wonderful!

  4. I’d love to grow bee balm, but it does tend to get mildew here if too dry so I shall just enjoy yours instead – great show! We don’t have a front garden as such now, but we do have a lovely buddleia ‘Reve de Papillon’ near our front gate that is attracting butterflies and smells wonderful. 🙂

  5. A friend in Massachusetts recently posted some photos of the same Monarda from his garden: at least it was the same color and height. They’re beautiful plants. and so effective massed together like that.

    Your caterpillar cracks me up. He does look like he’s wearing sunglasses — he’s one cool dude!

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